Loss of balance may occur for several reasons, including a vitamin B12 deficiency. This vitamin plays an essential role in your overall health, especially the health of your central nervous system, the structure that helps you control your balance. While most people can obtain adequate amounts of vitamin B12 from a balanced diet, some people experience a decreased ability to absorb this vitamin. Talk to your doctor before taking therapeutic doses of vitamin B12 to treat balance problems.
Vitamin B12 also goes by the name of cobalamin. This member of the B vitamin group helps support healthy metabolism, red blood cell formation and nerve function. Natural sources of B12 include meat, milk, eggs, poultry and shellfish. Your liver can store excess amounts of B12, unlike some water-soluble vitamins that quickly exit your body. The recommended amount of B12 for adults is 2.4 mcg per day.
Too little vitamin B12 in your diet or the existence of celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, or surgical removal of the small intestine, or pernicious anemia can increase your risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Early signs of a B12 deficiency include loss of appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, light-headedness and concentration problems. Without proper treatment, this deficiency can lead to depression, confusion and a tingling sensation in your feet and hands, as well as loss of balance.
Although a vitamin B12 deficiency may be responsible for your loss of balance, other conditions may also cause this common symptom. Dizziness, balance problems and light-headedness may occur due to a sudden drop in blood pressure, dehydration, allergies, labrynthitis or Meniere’s disease. Serious disorders that may cause a loss of balance include bleeding in the brain, brain tumors, stroke and multiple sclerosis.
Nerve damage from a B12 deficiency can be permanent. See your doctor if you suspect you have a deficiency or if you experience a loss of balance unrelated to quick positional changes or inner ear problems. A blood test can help disclose the presence of a B12 deficiency. If medical tests determine that you have pernicious anemia, a condition that occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough intrinsic factor, the protein necessary for your body to absorb adequate amounts of B12, you may require long-term treatment in the form of B12 injections or high-dose vitamin B12 oral supplements.